20,000 rally in Moscow to demand release of protesters

20,000 Rally in Moscow to demand release of protesters

About 20,000 people have rallied in Moscow to demand the release of people who were arrested during a wave of opposition demonstrations this summer.

Those at the rally in central Moscow, which was sanctioned by Russian authorities, chanted “Free them all!”

Protests erupted in Moscow in July after officials refused to allow a dozen independent and opposition candidates to run for the Moscow city legislature in the September 8 vote.

Rallies drew crowds of up to 60,000, the largest show of discontent against President Vladimir Putin’s rule in seven years.

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Police violently dispersed some of the election protests that were not sanctioned, detaining more than 2,400 people. Most were quickly released, but more than a dozen were put in custody on charges of involvement in riots.

Amid the public outrage, the authorities dropped charges against some of the protesters, but several have been sentenced to prison terms of up to four years and a few others are in still custody or under house arrest awaiting court verdicts.

“Let’s be confident of our power. If we come out in force, we will win their release,” Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most visible foe, said at the rally.

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